Head-On (Fatih Akin) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
When 40-something busboy Cahit (Birol Ünel) exclaims, in a moment of euphoria, "Punk's not dead!", you can be pretty sure he'll find out soon that it is, at least for him. The consequences of arrested development can be hard to watch, but Fatih Akin's tale of two damaged, reckless Germanized Turks is honest, funny and moving enough to make it worthwhile.
Cahit, suicidal, drives head-on into a wall. In the hospital, he meets fellow attempted suicide Sibel (Sibel Kekilli), who convinces him to marry her so she can leave her traditional parents. Happily dissolute, they do lines at their sham wedding, carouse, fight and self-destruct, bleeding supersaturated blood.
Love, of course, screws everything up, and tragedy looms. The chorus of sentimental Turkish torch songs that punctuates the action seems truer and less laughable each time it rolls around, as Akin eases us from the heights of exuberance down to a perfect deep pitch of bittersweet romantic melancholy.
Head-On won the Golden Bear at the 2004 Berlinale, and has its Canadian premiere tonight. Subtitled. (May 12 and 19 at the Goethe Institut) Wendy Banks